Saturday 16 May 2015

All quiet on the pay talks/Night Tube front with absolutely no movement from either side since LUL slightly upped their offer a month ago.  On the issue of pay they are sticking to the line that we’ve had above inflation pay rises while others have had pay freezes but in that respect we are no different to our fellow ASLEF members working for the mainline TOCs.   You could argue that they are private sector while we are public sector but the amount of taxpayers’ money pumped into the TOCs makes any difference between us and them debatable.

On Night Tube they are offering us far less to permanently change our agreements in order to run 24 hours twice a week than they did to temporarily run an hour or two later during the Olympics. LUL did suggest getting ACAS involved but the unions didn’t see the point of simply changing the venue, the offer is derisory and if our union reps were to recommend accepting the deal as it stands the members would reject it.

As far as staffing goes we are still being told that at some point in the future depots will get to choose either part-timers or “fixed links” but as that isn't going to be possible to arrange by September we will have Friday and Saturday night shifts tacked onto the end of a week of dead lates every 10-12 weeks in the roster.  While they say this will only be a temporary measure the suspicion among TOps is that this will become a permanent fixture.  From listening to talk around the mess room these night shifts are already highly unpopular, no one is going to want to swap those weeks and some people who currently work earlies are going to be stuck with them which won’t help if your household arrangements are based around a set work pattern.

Needless to say there are several theories floating around to explain LUL’s intransigence, a popular one is that management were waiting to see who won the election in the hope that the Tories would stay in power and bring in a change to the law regarding strike ballots or even make strikes on the Tube illegal.  While it sounds plausible I somehow suspect that Cameron & Co have far more pressing matters to deal with than a bit of trouble on the Tube and the same applies to the idea that management are trying to provoke a strike in order to get legislation pushed through.

Another explanation is that having seen off RMT and TSSA over “ticket office closures” with comparative ease management are brimming with confidence and think that they can steamroller TOps just as easily.  If that is the case then they weren’t paying attention last summer when the ASLEF strike effectively closed the Central Line, spread that to the whole combine, throw in a joint strike with RMT who are itching to get some pay back and there would be no service at all.

As I mentioned in a previous post there’s also a suggestion that LUL have been given a strict budget and are being told from above that they can’t offer us any more than they are; they are simply obeying orders.  A final possibility doing the rounds is that LUL don’t want Night Tube and are going through the motions in order to placate Boris ahead of his imminent departure.  They have deliberately made an offer the unions cannot accept in order to stall things so when the start date rolls around they can blame us for the failure and wash their hands of the whole sorry affair.

Whatever the explanation the talks drag on, we get no closer to settling things, Friday 11th September is now less than four months away and should LUL try to impose the new timetable upon us without an agreement in place then a strike will be unavoidable.  While we don’t want to go on strike we know we will win this one, if LUL really want Night Tube then they are going to have to make us a reasonable offer sometime between now and the beginning of August, in the meantime let’s hope we have a nice summer before it all kicks off.


  1. As a new Trainee Train/Op, can I just commend you on a solidly informed and good humoured blog.

    I too share many concerns. The manner in which management have essentially gutted the front-line station side should show the drivers they might well have helped station staff in their dispute and is also a sign of things to come if drivers don't stand up against these changes.

    The night tube dispute is very strange as you have explained. I think it's a combination of all the factors you mention:

    - Management hitting a brickwall when trying to explain to Boris about night tube and hoping it doesn't come in.
    - Boris salivating over his chance to lead the Tories and not caring either way as if it's implemented he wins/if it's not implemented he wins by being seen to have "stood up to the unions and not given in to extortionate demands from greedy drivers (insert Right-wing interpretation here)"
    - Strike legislation changes with either Boris or the management wanting to provoke the unions into a strike to see these laws supported through.
    - Also, Union bosses being happy that these plans have no chance of going through as management have set the date. if management don't meet their own deadline for night tube they'll have no-one to do the night shifts as I doubt drivers would do them.

    Also, the ORR have not been impressed with LU's safety plans re: Night Tube, esp. with stations with unused interchanges (Oxford Circus where the Bakerloo line is not planned to run at night) writing directly to some unions and essentially saying "Guys, you've got a point, we're pretty shocked LU thought they could get away with these shoddy unsafe plans"

    To any non-tube workers, what you'll have, are many staff working late at night on their own having to deal with drunk and disorderly behavior without colleagues being nearby and with no Station Control Room Assistants to help ( They're the people staff call to act as the eyes and ears of big stations, the guys who watch the cameras and help direct staff at key busy stations when incidents happen)

    Also, the independent accountability authority for London's transport, London TravelWatch have been rightly concerned with ticket office closures (Re-fitting costing 160 million +) and key Night Tube Issues not being resolved, especially Re: Safety + Less staff.
    Do read their annual report. Amazing how TFL/LU don't/didn't publicise it.

    I just find it amazing that the media always take management lines of communication as sacrosanct and imply their words as being more truthful as any Union/Staff/Independent body representative.

    Anyways it's gonna be an interesting year.

    P.S.: I read the notices on many of the Ticket Offices that have closed recently (Startford!) You have to laugh at propaganda when they write they are "Refurbishing," the ticket offices and will have " new and improved facilities." No mention that the ticket office with human being dealing with refunds/problems/enquiries far quicker than many touch screen machines have now permanently been removed.
    It was also interesting t speak to an LU employee regarding the re-design of the ticket halls: Apparently it's been a challenge to convince the top level that they need to to actually go to the stations to see how the commuter traffic will work.
    Most management involved, just look at a tube hall blueprint and go "Ooh we could put something there, ooh there too and that'll be good there"

    I look forward to more LU staff members having to answer questions about why xyz have given them the wrong type of quinoa in the delivery basket where a ticket office used to be. It's the Future don't you know?!

  2. I highly doubt LU will be allowed to climb down from the night tube - it's been promised a long time ago, the people are firmly in favour, and they have enough contempt for TfL to believe the unions if they make the argument that TfL wanted to do this on the cheap and that without additional staff the whole scheme will end in drunks being scraped off the tracks with shovels on a nightly basis. From a PR point of view I'd keep quiet about the extra pay, though...

    1. It's been proposed and rejected for a long time but it was only "promised" in September last year. At the moment we're not being offered any extra pay for working Night Tube, just a one off £250 payment when it starts, another £250 if it's all agreed by the end of June (it won't be) and £250 if the first three months are trouble free (they won't be). Compared to what we got for working an hour or two later over the Olympics that's laughable.

    2. It appears that management are trying to impose night tube by sending out new duty sheets with night working tacked on.

  3. As the consultation over Night Bus changes is now out (for 'consultation' read 'this is what we'll do no matter what you want'), it's clear that TfL is pushing ahead with Night Tubes regardless of reality. It's important to watch the Night Bus proposals as they are thinning out routes and forcing people to use the tube which has higher fares.

    Many Night Bus users are low-paid workers who would struggle to pay Underground fares (unless they're on an integrated mode ticket, time-based and not value-based) and vulnerable people still have to travel between the station that's open and their homes, which may have previously been close to a convenient bus stop. Some people are claustrophobic and can't use underground trains.

    LU openly admit there are £millions of concealed costs in running the tube round the clock - most systems aren't designed for it and some don't allow it. The bank payment settlement system for contactless cards needs a shutdown to send and receive payments and data. Date-resetting needs a shutdown. Power generation equipment needs to cool down (a big problem on the Central Line) and the more you use something, the faster it heads towards its next nervous breakdown - where's the resilience for key kit failing?

    This burgeoning London night leisure economy will benefit further from round the clock running of tubes but how much are they contributing toward the costs? Remember that one union has published that the Night tube can't break even before 2033, which TfL/LU have had considerable difficulty refuting. Given TfL's big budget cuts (ta, George - not), what else will be cut to fund the night tubes?

    It's important to see London as an integrated whole, much as the tube is important here. All TfL is doing is robbing Peter (and not getting much for the effort) to pay Paul (who will cost a sight more than they're allowing for!).